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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


In a recently closed thread on THE BEAT, Heidi offered some photos depicting her opinion of "what it actually looks like when men are sexualized."

Not surprisingly, I find this a very problematic definition of sexualization-- even more problematic than that of Kelly Thompson.  This visual definition certainly leaves no room for viewing sexual display as something positive, as A. Sherman Barros writes in this essay:

Female body and female power are not and need not be separate realms, something that has not yet been realized by infantile feminists that keep crying out not only for total de-eroticization of art (including its modern popular expression in comics and films), but for its de-sexualization by the erasure of representation of all secondary sexual characteristics. When sex is viewed as a threat, mental disturbance is not very far away.  

I suggest that Heidi's principal rhetorical point in displaying these NSFW photos is not properly an illustration of sexualization in all its multifarious forms, but to portray a particular state of sexual abjection. This state is more or less identical with Ms. McDonald's estimation of the status of all or most sexualization for female comics-characters, who are not infrequently the victims of "boob-windows, brokebacks, etc."  Abjection is, I submit, just one aspect of sexualization as it has been depicted in art and literature.

There are many dimensions to the matter of sexual abjection which I'll address in a future essay. In this post, however, I only want to throw out a few examples of cover-featured male abjection, sometimes in relation to female characters, sometimes not. As I've written before on the subject of equity, I am not asserting that there are necessarily more depictions of male abjection than female abjection. But I do assert that if one does not take into account how this visual trope is used for both genders, one cannot come to any meaningful conclusions on the subject.

I've already cited the first example with respect to the rather jejune assertion that any sort of "assault with a long object" should be automatically viewed as a form of rape.

Then there's the time that the Flash went the bondage-guy one better, and hired himself out to the foot-fetish community.

As a young fan, I remember writing DC Comics, claiming that I was tired of seeing Superman "dead, dying, or scared to death." Here's "dead:"

Here's "dying:"

And finally, "scared to death."

One may argue that not all of these depict sexual abjection. I have little doubt that I could find other covers more in line with the GREEN LANTERN "rape" cover. Yet it's a given that no matter how many such illustrations of male abjection I might display, the answer of those who advocate total and unstinting equity would always be, "But there's MORE covers showing Wonder Woman about to have a missile slam her in the lady parts!"  And this MAY be true, though I submit that it may not mean as much as some critics think it does.

More on the topic of abjection later. For now, I must address one of the responses made to my comments on the aforementioned closed thread.

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